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IFA Seeks Repeat of 2013 California Lobbying Success

By building relationships with other leaders in the industry along with our own members in the state, IFA hopes to present a unified voice against anti-business policy for the coming year.

Last March, more than 20 franchisees, franchisors and International Franchise Association staff descended on the California State Capitol in Sacramento to launch the first annual California Franchise Day.  The group conducted more than 30 meetings with legislators, staff and other policymakers, explaining the franchise model, sharing the stories of their businesses, the economic importance of franchise small businesses and the benefits of the hundreds of thousands of jobs they create every year.

Dean Heyl is senior director, state government relations, public policy & tax counsel for the International Franchise Association.

Dean Heyl is senior director, state government relations, public policy & tax counsel for the International Franchise Association.

The day was such a success that a similar fly-in was conducted in August to spearhead the defeat of California Senate Bill 610, a potentially harmful franchise relationship bill.  It was later pulled by its sponsor to avoid defeat by leaders from both parties.

This year’s California Franchise Day, set for March 4 in Sacramento, is shaping up to be an even more significant event.  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, California has the largest economy in the nation by a significant margin.  Nearly all the issues facing the franchise industry at the national level are in consideration by the California state legislature, making it one of the most active states legislatively that affects franchising.

Although IFA’s Government Relations & Public Policy team follows these issues closely, in-person meetings with our members allow elected officials to speak directly with their constituents in the franchise community, reminding lawmakers of the very real effects that their decisions have on customers, businesses and their employees.

Sending a Powerful Message

Grassroots outreach is a critical part of IFA’s efforts to protect the franchise business model nationally, particularly in more progressive-leaning states such as California.  IFA Vice Pres. of Public Policy and Chief of Staff to the CEO Matt Haller said, “Events like the California Franchise Day give us the opportunity to put a face behind our efforts at the state and local levels.  Our members are our most effective advocates against bad policy, and their firsthand accounts of the challenges facing their businesses send a powerful message to the statehouse.”

Saunda Kitchen, CFE, a Mr. Rooter franchisee and IFA board member who attended last year’s event, added, “We are the industry experts. We each have a story to tell: the struggles of building businesses and the successes of growing and adding equipment and team members. And as healthy contributors to the economy, our lawmakers need to know and understand what it takes to continue to meet payrolls week after week.  And they want to hear what we have to say.”

Sam Higginbotham is assistant, government relations for the International Franchise Association.

Sam Higginbotham is assistant, government relations for the International Franchise Association.

Other Industry Issues

The time with lawmakers will also be used to highlight some of IFA’s other programs, including the VetFran strategic initiative.  The program has grown significantly since its inception in 1991, and now encompasses move than 600 IFA member companies which offer financial incentives, training and mentoring to veterans interested in entering the franchise industry. Since 2011, more than 150,000 veterans and military spouses have entered franchising, including more than 5,000 as franchise business owners.  These numbers dramatically surpass IFA’s original commitment to recruit 80,000 veterans and military spouses by the end 2014, and are indicative of the franchise business model’s ability to provide steady growth and new job creation in uncertain economic times.

Recently, IFA staff met with representatives of several prominent voices in the state’s business community including the California Restaurant Association, the Civil Justice Association of California and advocates for companion-care franchisors and franchisees located in the state.  The meetings were designed to discuss collaboration on the numerous issues facing the legislature this year, including renewed efforts to implement a “living wage,” burdensome environmental regulations, frivolous litigation and a number of far-reaching labor rules.  By building relationships with other leaders in the industry along with our own members in the state, IFA hopes to present a unified voice against anti-business policy for the coming year.

Dean Heyl is senior director of state government relations, public policy & tax counsel and Sam Higginbotham is assistant, government relations for the International Franchise Association. Find them at fransocial.franchise.org.  If you are interested in joining the IFA team for this year’s California Franchise Day, contact IFA Senior Director, Political Affairs, Grassroots Advocacy and Multi-Unit Franchise Engagement Erica Farage at efarage@franchise.org or 202-662-0760.

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